More On "Significant Risks" Implementing ADS-B

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"Risks" identified by a DOT's Office of Inspector General (IG) report earlier this month "will impact the cost, schedule, and expected benefits of ADS-B" and may feed off of each other until addressed by the FAA. The Inspector General said the greatest risks to successful implementation "are airspace users' reluctance to purchase and install new avionics" and "FAA's ability to define requirements" for the advanced capabilities of that equipment. The FAA has estimated overall costs on the user end could range from $2.5 billion to $6.2 billion overall. And the FAA currently plans to mandate only ADS-B Out by 2020. However, ADS-B Out "essentially replicates existing domestic radar coverage," meaning adopters would bear a cost but see few new benefits. The main benefits of ADS-B rely on in-cockpit ADS-B In. But the IG estimates FAA requirements and equipment costs for that feature "may not be mature for at least two years." According to the IG, so long as that mix of uncertainties remain, "progress with ADS-B will be limited" and delays, cost increases and performance shortfalls "will continue." There are other complications and the FAA has responded.

Aside from the cockpit side of ADS-B, the IG says integrating ADS-B on controllers' displays also presents a significant and yet unmet challenge. And on the foundation level, the IG says the FAA has failed to update its cost-benefit analysis structure to ensure the most cost-effective approach to implementation. The FAA has also not yet assessed "staffing gaps or actions needed" to provide oversight once the ground system is in place and being used to manage air traffic, according to the IG. The report notes that the FAA is making progress refining how ADS-B is put to work with airspace users, and makes recommendations "to help FAA reduce risk" with the program's oversight and implementation. The FAA agreed in full with seven of the nine recommendations and has put forth plans to addressed them and meet with the IG's approval. See the IG's full report here: Click for PDF.